Predisposed Breed Conditions
by Peter Rodgers BVSc MRCVS
Article used with permission.
Rottweilers are predisposed to a number of conditions, a few
of which we will discuss here. The size of Rottweilers leads
them to share a number of joint/skeletal problems with other
large breeds of dogs such as German Shepherds, Great Danes,
2.Cruciate Ligament Rupture
Normally the hip is a stable ball-and-socket joint.
In cases of hip dysplasia, the socket is often too shallow
and the ball too small or misshapen.This leads to an unstable
joint which in turn can cause painful lameness early in life
and progressive arthritis later in life. The causes of hip dysplasia are not yet fully understood,
however a number of risk factors are involved. The condition may be inherited.
It is wise to choose pups from parents who have had their
hips X-rayed under the BVA (British Veterinary Association)
Scheme and had scores deemed suitable for breeding. Under this
scheme Xrays are taken of the hips by a Veterinary Surgeon
and submitted to an independent panel of experts at the BVA
who "score" each hip for abnormalities: the lower
the score, the better hip condition.
Rapid growth, weight gain and excessive strenuous exercise are all factors that can lead to hip dysplasia.
This can be difficult to monitor as it is in the nature of
young dogs to want to exercise and it is not possible to determine
exactly how much exercise is too much. Common sense is required:
do not run your dog to exhaustion every day, and any lameness
should be evaluated by a Veterinary Surgeon. Your Vet may wish
to Xray your dog's hips to evalaute them, although hip dysplasia
may not be fully developed until 12-18 months of age.
It is difficult to make recommendations which
will guarantee hip dyplasia will not occur and it is recommended
you consult your Veterinary Surgeon for any further advice
should you have any concerns.
The symptoms of Hip Dysplasia by age:
Under 3 months - there may be no symptoms, though the pup
may appear clumsy on its hind legs
3-18 months - there may be no symptoms, or there may be pain
in the affected hips leading to lameness in one or both hind
legs. Stiffness and reluctance to exercise is common.
18 months - In mild cases
the symptoms seen earlier in life may settle down and the
dog will lead a normal life for a number of years.In more
severe cases the symptoms seen earler in life will continue
Middle to Old age - The affected hips are likely to become
arthritic and may need medical or surgical treatment.
Treatment of Hip Dysplasia varies according
to the dogs age and individual veterinary surgeons. Young
dogs tend to be treated with a combination of anti-inflammatory
drugs along with a balanced diet and moderate exercise. Most
dogs settle down at approx 18 months of age. Otherwise various
surgical options are available, some of which are specialist
procedures. Older dogs tend to be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs,
either intermittently or long term when necessary. More severe
cases may be treated surgically.
Cruciate Ligament Rupture
The anterior cruciate ligament is one of
five major ligaments that cross the knee (stifle) joint to
keep it stable.This can rupture (tear) partially or completely
at any time in a dogs life causing lameness and progressive
Lameness is the main sign on the affected
knee. The lameness may be sudden or gradual in onset. Examination
by your Veterinary Surgeon may reveal other signs which support
the diagnosis, including pain, swelling and instability in
the knee joint. There may be a noticeable "clunk"
when the dog is walking in severely unstable joints. Often
the dog will need to be sedated or anesthetized to be relaxed
enough for the joint to be examined properly and Xrays may
be taken to reveal the degree of arthritis in the joint.
In the majority of cases of anterior cruciate
ligament rupture in Rottweilers, the treatment of choice will
be surgery to stabilize the joint. Occasionally in less severe
cases, treatment may be with anti-inflammatory
drugs, increased rest and a weight loss plan if necessary. Regardless of
the treatment given, all affected dogs will develop arthritis
in the knee joint to some extent afterwards.
Osteochondrosis (O.C.D) of the elbow
Osteochondrosis is common in young dogs
in which normal cartilage development fails. More commonly
in the elbow joint, although other joints can be affected,
including the shoulder. In the elbow this involves a fragment
of the normal surface of the joint breaking away. In the shoulder
this produces a defect in the joint surface on the head of
the humerus. In both cases this leads to the surface of the
joint being uneven and poorly fitting, which will progress
to osteoarthritis in the affected joints over time. The causes of OCD are not yet fully understood.
Most dogs exhibit symptoms initially between
4-8 months of age. The main sign will be lameness in the affected
leg and/or stiffness after rest. The affected elbow/shoulder
may be painful on manipulation though this is not always the
case. Both elbows/shoulders maybe affected, even though only one
Dogs may exibit the same symptoms when older due to osteoarthritis
in the joint secondary to the OCD.
Diagnosis of OCD is made by examination of the affected joints,
often under sedation/anaesthetic, along with Xrays of the
shoulder/elbow joints. OCD in its early stages can be very
difficult to see on an Xray, even to the eye of an experienced
Veterinary Surgeon. Therefore, a specialist's opinion may be
necessary. Treatment varies with the severity of the condition
and the joint involved. Often the symptoms are only mild and
will settle down after a while with rest, a balanced diet
and anti-inflammatory drugs. Sometimes in more severe cases
surgery may be performed to remove the damaged portion of cartilage.
Regardless of which treatment is used, most dogs will go on
to develop osteoarthritis in the affected joint later in life.
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